hall of mirrors

It feels very much like the same old, same old. Once again, I'm really not well. Thought I was getting better but apparently not. Indeed, I have been quite unwell. It's hard to know what to write here, what I might regret (although I can always post edit). Indeed I've delayed writing anything for some days and delayed publishing for several more. It's so absurdly difficult reflecting on this illness, my head feels like porridge and thinking about what's going on inside it ties me in knots. In lucid moments, sensible Janet comes out and says all the right things and then I feel like I'm managing this just. oh. so. well. And that really, I should just be able to go on with my life. Which is actually the loopy me talking, because I can't. Shouldn't. There's a hall of mirrors inside my head.

Last week at work was truly awful. I felt like I had no skin, open to everyone else's feelings. The medical word is labile, from the Latin labilis, meaning liable to slip. I had this feeling before the post natal psychosis. Maintaining control has been like navigating a supermarket on acid without anyone noticing. You can do it, sort of, but it's really, really difficult. And it had begun to feel like normal. Obviously I looked and sounded fine enough on the outside, but wasn't and lacked the judgement to tell someone. Wednesday was surreal. On the way to work, on a packed tram, an old lady fell into my arms. She was about to dismenbark and I was poised to take her seat when I heard her teenage granddaughter say, Nan, Nan are you alright? Someone help. I stood behind her as she fell back into my arms. Someone call an ambulance, I said, and people reached for their mobiles. I helped the old lady onto the floor and was checking for breathing. As she came to, another woman, much more experienced in first aid, appeared from the back of the tram and took charge. We placed her in the recovery position and put something under her head. A connex offical with a backpack arrived and despite the firstaider saying that the old lady shouldn't be moved, arranged for the tram to be cleared and change tracks so the next tram could pass. As I went on to work I couldn't stop crying under my sunglasses. In the end, I think the old lady was taken good care of. It's pretty normal to be shaken when something like that happens, but later and throughout the day, I started to doubt whether the event had actually happened. Eventhough I could still feel her old lady soft body fall against me. Reality was becoming tenuous.



There have been stretches where things have been OK. Including some Christmas shopping, in town, on Thursday morning. Bizarre, I know. Mind you, lunch at my favourite food court eatery (with really good chilli eggplant, mmm) was surreal. A really fat man sat at the table next to me and picked at his food and another man, homeless I think, did furtive battle with the sparrows as he ate from plates left by others. The young waitress clearing tables pointedly ignoring him. I just sat there and freaked out. However with hindsight, it's obvious that good bits have been moving further apart, becoming much more unpredictable. It all came rushing out at my psychiatrist appointment that afternoon. Not only did my doctor have her notebook out, but she checked her notes from the previous two and a half years.When I said the thought of hospital is appealing, she asked me, would you like to go to hospital? I can arrange it, but it would have to be in the public system. I've been in hospital before and decided no, because as my doctor says, hospital has it's own set of terrors. It's likely that I have a form of mania. Not a bright sparkly high, but an anxious unpleasant one. Chances are that my diagnosis has moved from mood affectiveness disorder to some type of bipolar. On hearing this I cried, I blamed myself (as I always do) for not being more on to it. We can manage this, the doctor said, would you react this way if it was diabetes or some other treatable condition? Lots of people make this point and can I just say that I would (at least intially) blame myself for having diabetes. And be upset and frightened. Being faced with a chronic condition is probably always shocking. Even when the signs have been there for a while.


I've told work what's happened. Not too much detail but the truth. Which worries me, but then if just say I have a medical condition, is that really better for me? There's no problem with leave but because I'm taking more than five days off, I'll have a rehabilitation caseworker assigned when I return. Gotta love the public service. I've been crapped off and pretty angry about it all; upset that I'm leaving my colleagues short staffed at a busy time, feeling like a shirker, a fake (love that hall of mirrors) and a drama queen, worried about how I'll be labelled, whether I can still do my job and how it will affect my future prospects. It's amazing how attractive work becomes when you can't. If I'm well enough to go to the Christmas party after work next week, they'll arrange for someone to collect me and Grace. Which is really pretty sweet and decent. But what do I say to people? The other night Dad reminded me I like my work, that it gives me a deep sense of achievement as well as an income. It's important to remember that not coping at work is a symptom of being ill and not the cause. In the past I might have just left. I'm determined not to do that this time.



So everything is on hold. No work until the new year. No buying houses* or other big decisions until I'm better. No driving until the new drugs stop making me drowsy and the crazy has settled. Not too much computer. I didn't leave the house for two days and alternated between nausea, head popping headaches and drowsiness with the odd bout of pitiful crying (but not in front of Grace). It wasn't depressed crying, more sorry for myself, how did I let it get this bad, it's all my fault for not living a better life, being in the mental health system is making me crazy and oh shit, I have to take mood stabilising medication again* and what if I turn into a zombie, and yep, I really am going crazy, kind of crying.

Oh fuck it.

On the good side, we already have some clean bits in the house. Not a whole house, but patches of detailed clean. Expect spasmodic posting and weird comments with bad spelling. And maybe some sewing and jam making. There has to be a good side to this. There really does.

* A house that I really liked sold in our price range today, but doing a major renovation in this state is lunacy - even I can see that. There will be more houses.
* Not lithium which I liked and would happily take again except that it gives me the shits, quite literally. Another one. Side effects (for me) unknown at this stage.  Although it does appear to be working and calm seems to be returning. Yay for that.

27 comments:

  1. Oh fuck it, is right.
    I wondered if you were ok, should've rung/emailed. Shit.
    I'm glad the calm seems to be returning and you and G and your doctor are doing things to manage it. You've had a shitty few months. Time to lose yourself (find yourself?) for a while in baking and sewing and quiet days?
    Come up and swim in the river soon.

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  2. What a sad post... but very articulate. I've never really thought before about what it would be like to live with this sort of mental health issue. Thanks for opening my mind to it.
    I hope that things settle down soon, and that you feel better. You're a brave person (even if you don't feel like you are at present!)Stay strong.

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  3. And yet you still weave the most magic posts of imagery and depth.
    I'd blame myself initially for diabetes too, or cancer ... bad choices, bad lifestyle, youth, not-looking-after-myself.
    I think that's a natural initial reaction, even if it's not true.
    Take care Janet. Not sure if it's what you want or need, but i'm always here if you want to pop over for a playdate/escape.
    xxx

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  4. I'm really so sorry you have all these difficulties now, Janet. I really will be thinking of you, even though I've never met you. Take care of yourself and be kind to yourself.

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  5. If only being able to articulate so beautifully on your illness was the same thing as curing it...
    thinking of you.
    caroline x

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  6. I was thinking the same, I wish you could write your way out of it because you write so beautifully. You know, it's actually quite incredible that you achieve that, because reading about depression is usually about as much fun as being poked by sharp things a lot. But you are a compelling writer and I read every word you write.
    I've been thinking about you, thinking how much I would like you and Grace to come out and visit, when you're feeling better, maybe when the silly season quietens down.
    I secretly think you should buy a house out here near me. Come and find some inner peace.
    xx
    p.s. I went to a supermarket on acid once. I hopped in all the easter bunny feet. A very long time ago. When I was an other me.

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  7. It's a tricky time of year, Janet.

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  8. I really appreciate how well you've written about this fucker when sometimes it's so hard to string the words together. I can connect with the 'how did I let this happen' thing and to the raw feelings you have revealed. Bu yay for the sewing and jam making.

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  9. Oh dude, somehow I feel you and I are in a pretty similar place at the mo...
    You will get through it.
    Just remember, 'one room at a time'.

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  10. Ouch, this is a brave and honest post. Take care and I look forward to reading how you're going.

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  11. thinking of you and wishing you lots of hugs.

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  12. thinking of you and sending you warm thoughts and hugs, much love, xox

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  13. oh I sympathize. It's strange reading your words when I'm experiencing something very similiar. sometimes I wonder if navigating the supermarket on acid contributed to this rubbish..and that's where the guilt comes in isn't it.
    take care.It's good you have a psychiatrist that you feel secure with.

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  14. Hi,
    Thank-you for being so honest, I have tried to write a blog because I am going through health issues with skin cancer on the other side of the world to those I love in Australia..so I know a bit about the time off work and the anger and the pain and the shock and I am going to try to start to write again because of you, because I think it helps.
    My sister who I talked to you about once has a Mood disorder and she didnt acknowledge or get help soon enough and it was extremely hard for her, but you have gotten help and acknowledged it and had the courage to do what you have to do and therefore you should not be angry with yourself because YOU have dealt with this and you will be well and I applaud you for it.
    All my kindest Wishes
    xxx

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  15. Depression, anxiety, panic attacks, all of those I have suffered with since the birth of my daughter, which I did go off medication for after a year of being on it, but then real life got in the way again and I have been back on my meds for about 4 yrs now. Sometimes I feel guilty about it, and other days I am thankful there is some sort of help for me. I have my blue days too, and get to the stage where sometimes I cant even drive the car or leave the house. I can see though that all the past events over the last few months have put you under an awful lot of stress and emotions to deal with too. I do hope that you will start feeling better, but it does take time and not everyone can heal as quickly as others. If you ever feel like talking feel free to.

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  16. I know I don't know you Janet and I have not had to deal with what you have to deal with but I've been down my own spirals and peaked into the abyss, like many of us clever and sensitive and creative people have. I too wish you write your self better. And has been said by others, still love to hear your words and ideas and how you put the together with so much love and truth..I will be thinking of you and sending you strength and good thoughts.

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  17. You are all right. Really. You are. Your post is marvellous. Those words. Your articulation of your feelings, your well-being or lack of it. I've said before what a wonderful writer you are. I think - whether it is a physical or mental illness - if you can stay in touch with some part of who you are, you the individual, the unique person in creation, herein lies the way back to well-being. You are a highly creative person. Please remain as far as you are able with that side of your personality. One day the world will get wider and you will feel more comfortable and capable in it.
    Blessings and bliss

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  18. Peace, rest, love, hugs, recovery, stabilisation, happy jam making and sewing time. Continued bravery and well articulated pain, compassionate friends and family, and small joys every day (and big ones on others!!). And minimal side effects. These are my wishes for you Janet. Hang in there, keep us posted - with spelling mistakes and all, PLEASE. x

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  19. Janet, hang in there. For some reason an image of a clothesline just came into my head. Right now, it's as if you are sopping wet. But you've had the good sense to pin yourself on the line and now with some time and nature doing it's work, you will soon be dry and crisp, ready to go. That may make as much sense as I would in a grocery store on acid but I hope it makes sense. Thinking good, positive, strong thoughts for you and the G's.

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  20. This most makes my eyes sting with tears. Such a difficult place to be...sending you strength, love and best wishes Janet.

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  21. This post makes my eyes sting with tears. Such a difficult place to be...sending you strength, love and best wishes Janet.

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  22. Hey. Hope you get some rest and peaceful times over the next week and enjoy a bit of the Christmas time (it's a hard time anyway, that's true!). Sending you much love.

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